Easy Caramelized Onions
Updated Apr 28, 2023
This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.
Caramelized onions are onions that have cooked low and slow, turning sweet and golden. They’re incredibly easy to make and add a burst of flavor when topped on burgers or steak, or used in soups, casseroles and dips. My French Onion Dip just wouldn’t be the same without caramelized onions.
If you’ve never made caramelized onions before, you’re in for a treat! Not only are they super easy to make, they have a rich, sweet flavor adds enormous depth to a wide variety of recipes.
I’m always touting sauces, marinades and spices for their ability to take recipes to the next level and caramelized onions are no different. Trust me, they’re a secret weapon in the kitchen.
Most think of onions as strongly flavored and tear-inducing, but when onions are cooked slowly over low heat, their natural sugars caramelize turning them a beautiful golden brown. And their flavor? Wonderfully sweet.
Caramelized Onion Ingredients
The great thing about this recipe is that there’s only one main ingredient – onions. You can use any variety of onions, but I recommend yellow onions or sweet onions.
To help with the caramelization process some oil, butter or ghee is needed to coat the pan and a little kosher salt enhances the flavor. Water or bone broth is also used (as needed) to help hydrate the onions while they cook, deglaze the pan and prevent burning.
Want to know what’s missing from this recipe? Sugar. There’s absolutely no need for it when the onions are cooked properly. And it’s just plain silly to add sugar to an item that caramelizes naturally.
How to Make Caramelized Onions
The great thing about this recipe is you can choose how long to cook the onions for and how golden or dark you like them to be. Here’s how you make them:
- Dice the onion. I prefer a mix of thinly sliced pieces and wider pieces for variety, but it’s up to you.
- Add the butter and/or oil (I prefer avocado oil) and sliced onion to a large sauté pan on medium heat.
- Give the onions a stir, then let them sit for 2-3 minutes at a time before stirring again. This helps to get one side dark and crispy. Add the salt, then stir again.
- Reduce the heat to medium low (or low if your burner cooks hot) and stir every couple of minutes for the first 30 minutes. If the onions stick or look like they’re burning, add a few tablespoons of water or broth as needed to rehydrate the onions and use a spatula to scrape the fond (those lovely browned bits) off the bottom of the pan and back into the onions.
- Repeat this cooking and scraping process for about 45 minutes or until the onions are cooked to your liking. Want them darker? Just cook a little longer. I like a mix of dark and light bits in my caramelized onions and this comes from not over stirring. If you stir them every minute, they’ll be more uniform in color. So darn easy!
How Long Can You Store Caramelized Onions?
Caramelized onions can be stored for several days in the fridge in a sealed container.
More Flavor Enhancing Recipes
Want to boost the flavor in any recipe? Just whip up one of these sauces below.
Easy Caramelized Onions
- 2 onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp butter, ghee or oil
- 1 tsp salt
- water or broth, as needed
- Add the butter or oil and sliced onions to a large pan on medium heat.
- Give them a stir to ensure the onions are all fully coated, then sprinkle on the salt and stir again.
- Reduce the heat to medium low (or low if you have a large burner) and stir the onions every 2-3 minutes, allowing them to caramelize on the bottom in between stirring.
- If the onion start to dry out and stick to the pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth to deglaze the pan (give it a good scrape) and rehydrate the onions.
- Continue this process of stirring, scraping and deglazing until the onions have cooked for 45 minutes or until they're cooked to your liking.
- Use the caramelized onions on a variety of recipes or store in the fridge for several days.
- If using butter, make sure you also add at least one tablespoon of oil to increase the smoke point of the butter and prevent the butter from burning.
- I think it’s best to make caramelized onions in a stainless steel or cast iron pan, not a non-stick pan. You want all those dark crispy bits!
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.